One of the most common misconceptions I’ve heard among fearful patients is that eating foods high in fat will subsequently increase body fat. I grew up during the low-fat diet craze of the 90s, when health trends began pushing people to believe fat was the root cause of our country’s growing obesity epidemic. I distinctly remember going to the grocery store with my parents and returning home with low-fat crackers, cookies, margarine, etc. Yet, when companies remove fat from foods, they’re actually adding in sugars, salt and chemicals to make the products tasty and shelf-stable. The right types of fat, in moderation, are good for you.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2015-2020, a low-fat diet is not recommended. The guidelines insists 35 percent of one’s caloric intake should come from fats in order to maintain a healthy diet and reduce one’s risk for cardiovascular disease. The USDA recommends 90 percent of fat intake should come from unsaturated fats, dubbed the “healthy fats.” Unsaturated fats are found in many foods including salmon, tuna, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
Saturated fats are found in foods such as coconut oil, butter, whole-fat dairy products and fattier cuts of meat. The USDA does not recommend consuming more than 10 percent of one’s daily calories in saturated fats; however, small amounts of saturated fats can be included within recommendations. So, go ahead and eat seafood, nuts, olive oils and even butter for optimal health! Fat can be good for you, so throw out those low-fat, processed snack foods. Instead, indulge in a whole foods-based diet and choose a small handful of almonds, an avocado, or some heart-healthy olive oil for satisfying food options that promote optimal health for children and adults alike. Below is a heart-healthy sweet potato recipe I love to prepare for my family.
Recipe: Easy, heart-healthy sweet potato fries
- 3-5 sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of paprika (Hungarian paprika recommended, especially if you like your fries spicy)
1). Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the outside of the sweet potatoes to remove all debris. Place the sweet potatoes in between two kitchen towels and soak up as much of the cleaning water as possible. Cut the sweet potatoes by slicing the sweet potato in half and then cutting the halves into ¼ chunks to make wedges.
2). Toss the sweet potatoes into a large bowl with the avocado oil. Massage the avocado oil into the sweet potatoes to ensure extra crispiness.
3). Add in the salt, pepper, garlic/onion powder and paprika, if desired.
4). Bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes, rotate the pan and cook for 5-10 more minutes, depending on the level of crispiness desired. Cook longer, if desired.
5). Serve and enjoy!